Curl Talk Q & A: Why is My Hair So Tangled?

by Ebony Clark-Bomani

Q: I'm about 2 seconds away from buzzing off all of my hair, so I hope you can help me. No matter what I do, my hair is a tangled mess ALL the time. It seems like even after I detangle my hair, it's tangled again almost immediately. My only saving graces are braids and twists because my hair is "gathered." What is the problem, and how can I fix it? CAN I fix it?  -TD-

A: I hate that you're having such a hard time! Overall, tangles can occur when hair that has been loose (aka wash and gos, afros, etc.) has not been moisturized and/or styled in a while. BUT, the kind of tangling that you're describing sounds like a porosity issue. Severe tangles are generally caused when the outer layer of the hair strand, the cuticle, has been damaged. Damaged cuticles stand open, unlike a smooth, healthy cuticle, and become snagged on each other. That results in tangles and knots. The more damaged the cuticle is, the worse the tangles! Hair that has been chemically processed is usually the most compromised---particularly hair that has been relaxed and/or color-treated, especially bleached. Bleach blows the cuticle wide open! Also, hair that has more length is prone to tangling, as well. It is not that long hair is more damaged, per se. You can blame those porous ends. The longer your ends have been around, the more weathered they will be. Naturally, the oldest part of your hair will be more porous than the rest (hence, another reason to to get periodic trims). So, what to do? Treat yourself to some really intensive hydration therapy sessions once a week for about 20 minutes. Either process conditioner using a thermal cap, or sit under a hair steamer. I prefer the latter. Deep conditioning once a week will also help tremendously. The deep conditioner will aid with moisture/protein balance. Protein is important for damaged hair, as it will provide strength. Add a quality leave-in conditioner (preferably liquid) to your hair daily or every other day. This will make your strands more slippery so that they glide across one another, instead of getting stuck. Always apply products to the hair in a downward motion, encouraging the cuticle to lay flatter---never rub the hair back and forth between your palms. That will cause some serious friction! Lastly, ALWAYS sleep on a satin pillowcase or cover your hair with a satin scarf or bonnet before going to bed. Hope this helps to get you on the right track!

Ebony Clark-Bomani

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